Monday, February 28, 2011

Look What's Dancing in My Gardens This Morning!

Early morning dancin' going on here... just at my gardens edge. And the dance means that big changes are happening here.

This is the view from my window on Friday morning...

Counting the days until my posts won't include snow.
February 25, 2011

And Sunday morning...
Change is Happening
February 27,2011

You may notice the snow is gone...

But I'm noticing those big piles of dirt.  They happened Saturday while I was away for the day.

Here's the dirt digger this morning... still sleeping.

But I watched with amazement as the big guy awoke. Surely reminiscent of a Pixar movie. You'll just have to use a little imagination here as I was so mesmerized by the action that I didn't grab my camera fast enough.

First, his long arm began to stretch. (I do that in the morning, too.)

Then his body began to spin.. a little this way, a little that way, then round and round and round. Then back again the other direction...wheeeeeeee!

I watched as the big old arm moved toward the ground and propped one side up so the roller wheel could spin... one way then the other, faster, faster! Then the arm moved to prop the other side and this roller wheel took his turn at spinning. (Can't you just sense how much fun this must be?)

Finally, fully awake the entire creature spun round and round and round obviously in great jubilation at the start of this new day. 

What a great morning dance!

Now what?

There's gotta be work to do. 

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm So Longing for Verdure...

Verdure... fresh green color.

To sit in the shade on a fine day, 
and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment...
It was a sweet view—sweet to the eye and the mind.
                                                                    Jane Austen

One can only dream....
this is what's happening in my gardens at this very moment:

New Fallen Snow

Fresh Winter Whites

 and it's still coming down. 

But this is the Pinch of Green  I dream of on this cold Winter's day...

Limelight Hardy Hydrangea

And yes it grows beautifully in my Zone 5 gardens.

Limelight Hardy Hydrangea was a new addition to my gardens in the Spring of 2010. I've been dreaming about this gorgeous plant all Winter long. Follow this link to read more about why this is a must have in my gardens:

Be sure to visit Katarina in Sweden for her Blooming Friday theme A Pinch of Green

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where Hummingbirds Gather

Last summer there wasn't much action going on at my Hummingbird Feeders... but near my grove of Leyland Cypress trees... there was a party going on!

Who knew that Hummingbirds love Leyland Cypress trees?

 It was such a fun discovery.

These photo's were all taken on a magical Summers day in August.
What a delight it was to watch these amazing little birds.
You can read more about that magical day and why the Hummingbirds are attracted to Leland Cypress by visiting 

♦ ♦ ♦

I must admit, Leyland Cypress was a favorite evergreen of ours long before I discovered the hummingbird's attraction to them. We first fell in love with these beautiful trees when we lived in Oregon. We had just moved to a new state into a new home, that had no landscaping. We knew nothing about plants in this region, so I spent a lot of time visiting nurseries and gardens before we designed the master plan for our landscape. I was on the lookout for new ideas for this new part of the world we had moved to. I soon discovered that just about anything will grow in Oregon so I had lots to choose from. (Oregon surely must be the nursery capitol of the USA, next time you buy a tree or plant, check the tag, most likely it came from Oregon.) We actually saw a row of Leyland Cypress in our neighbor's yard and decided in unison, "We've got to have those trees!" Yes they are that beautiful! So we planted several and absolutely adored them.

Summer 2010
When we came back to Utah, we wanted to include many of the features we loved about out Oregon gardens. Leyland Cypress was at the top of our list. We searched everywhere for them. Couldn't find them in nurseries or in landscapes. I finally inquired about them and I was told they wouldn't grow in my zone 5 gardens, especially in our area where the Highland winds can sometimes be intense. That wasn't the answer we wanted to hear. I longed for my Oregon gardens, it was hard to leave them behind. So I kept searching for Leyland Cypress in spite of the advice we had been given. 

And then I found them... at Home Depot. Doesn't Home Depot sell just about everything for your gardens regardless of what zone you live in? Well this time it was a blessing. I purchased six of them without blinking. Each tree was about five feet tall.  I was willing to take a gamble that they would grow in my new gardens. 

My Honeyman dug the holes in our hard clay soil and planted them on the property line 5 ft. apart. We wanted them to provide a screen and sound barrier from the neighbor's play area. We installed drip heads at the base of each tree so they would get get regular watering during our hot Summer months. Then we crossed our fingers and waited for them to grow. That was almost eight years ago. 

Summer 2009
We have not been disappointed.

Today they are thriving and stand nearly 30 ft. tall. They are a favorite element of our gardens. We're often stopped by walkers on the paths that run throughout our neighborhood to ask what kind of tree they are. I love to tell them our story. We took a chance and it has paid off.

Leyland Cypress 
X Cupressocyparis leylandii 

The Leyland Cypress is a hybrid between the Alaskan Cypress and the Monterey Cypress that occurred in Wales in 1888. It grows rather quickly (about 2 ft. per year) and has a dense structure, making it ideal for use in privacy screens and windbreaks. It has feathery, soft pointed needles arranged in flat sprays on long thin branches.  And as with most evergreens, its needles release a pleasant fragrance when broken. Leyland Cypress trees thrive in full sun to light shade and tolerate most soil types. They will grow to a height of 60-75 feet tall  with a 10 foot spread. 

Their lacy needles are delicate and light 
and so beautiful 
as the sun softly filters through them.

And they are absolutely stunning in Winter.

Besides,  the Hummingbirds adore then as much as we do!

Can't wait for the party next Summer!

Another post or two coming soon about Evergreens in our gardens.  Stay tuned!

Friday, February 18, 2011

EVERGREENS! Every Garden Needs Them

Evergreens are an essential ingredient in our gardens. They help to provide the bones or structure of our landscape. In our cold climate gardens they provide color when our world is covered in Winter Whites or has turned to shades of brown.  Without them, Winters in our gardens would just be cold and dreary. This post is the first in a series highlighting the importance of Evergreens in our gardens and some of our favorites.

The star of today's post is the

Austrian Black Pine
Pinus nigra

The Austrian Black Pine is a rapidly growing pine 
with long dark needles in bundles of 2's. 
It thrives in full sun and is cold hardy to -20°.
Mature size is 50 ft tall and 35 ft. wide.

Eastward View of Austrian Pines 2009

Evergreens provide peace and calm in our gardens 
as well as privacy and shade.

Have you ever just sat in your garden and listened to sound of the wind rustling through an evergreen tree's branches? It's a heavenly sound that soothes and calms on a Summer's night.

Looking North...Spring 2009

We planted six Austrian Black Pines in our landscape. We needed something to grow quickly and they have not disappointed us. Their growth has averaged about a foot a year. When they are full grown in our gardens their boughs will just touch, creating a place of privacy in our open path neighborhood. We love the shade they provide on hot Summer days and  the wildlife they bring to our gardens reminds us that we share this beautiful earth with God's delicate creatures.

Summer 2010... Glorious Mountain Background

Evergreens can be a considerable investment of money as well as our time, so it's important to choose wisely before we make a purchase. Careful consideration should always be given to the space where they will be planted. Know the ultimate size your evergreen will reach, both height and width, and be sure your space will accommodate your full grown evergreen. Often a gardeners biggest mistake is planting a cute little pine tree they bought at the nursery in a space that in a few years will be far to small for the growing tree. What a shame to have to remove a beautiful evergreen that could have provided a lifetime of enjoyment had the gardener planned more carefully. You can always fill that empty space you've saved to allow for growth of your evergreen with other plants that will be much easier to remove as your evergreen grows.

Baby Robin in Camouflage

Many species of birds and wildlife have chosen to live 
among our Austrian Pines and use them for food and shelter. 

Robins and Mourning Doves build nests in the strong branches.  Chickadees eat the bugs found among the needles. We have watched Hawks perch on the highest branches to use for a lookout. Mule Deer have found refuge in Winter months among these trees.

He Thinks We Can't See Him

If I Sit Very Still No One will Notice Me

Three Different Birds... Can you see them?

During the Summer months these pines are filled with birds of all kinds. We're thrilled that they consider our gardens home and always enjoy watching them nest and raise their little ones. Their morning songs awake us and fill us with delight for each new day we are blessed to live.

Austrian Black Pine Dressed in Winter White

And then there is Winter... our Austrian pines are royal dressed in the white of snow. They truly capture the essence of Winter beauty in our gardens. Look above at the blog header... one of my favorite Winter pics of our Austrian Pines.

What evergreen in our gardens will we highlight next?  
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The crunch under my feet as I walked across my lawn this morning verified the thought already foremost in my mind.  "It's freezing out here!"  But I was on a quest. "I've got to find something blooming in my gardens... it's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

As I walked down each frosty garden path my eyes searched intently for anything green and growing. Nada. Except, of course, the vibrant evergreens of my gardens that seem to be flourishing. "How do they survive in this cold?" I almost wondered out loud. "I'm going to have to lower my expectations." 

As I trudged along the frozen grass, I began to focus on the trees and shrubs for signs of swelling leaf buds. "They're kind of like blooms... waiting to burst... aren't they?"  I was feeling a little desperate. I seriously inspected anything with a branch on it.  Again I was disappointed. "A whole lot of warm has to happen before there's any bud swelling going on here." 

I kept walking, intent on finding something to post about. After I'd circled around our half acre several times, I was ready to give up.  "There is nothing that even resembles a bloom here."  Resigned to have to wait for a 'Wordless Wednesday' post I quickened my pace as I walked toward the door and the warmth that was surely on the other side of it. 

Quite suddenly something caught my eye that I had missed before... 
the Quick Fire Hardy Hydrangea near the back door.

February, I Found A Bloom!

Blooms that first appeared waaaay back in June, though weathered and dry, were still clinging to their branches.  I smiled with satisfaction. "There's my post for the day."  

I quickly took a few shots with my camera but I couldn't help but marvel at the tenacity of those delicate little flowers. All through the Winter they have withstood the strong gusts of the notorious Highland winds that blow down from the tops of our mountains.  They have endured the sub-freezing temps that have been relentless for so many weeks. They have survived the deep snow cover that has finally, just in the past several days, begun to melt. "Wow. This hydrangea really is hardy" I thought to myself.

I must admit to all, I fell in love with hydrangeas when we lived in Oregon almost a decade ago... land where just about anything grows. Hydrangeas have a tougher time in Utah and I was thrilled to find a variety that would thrive in my zone 5 garden. I have loved this hydrangea since I first planted it two years ago. 

Here's a photo journal I've kept of my Quick Fire hydrangea in my garden going backwards from today. (Yes this is my baby and I've taken monthly pictures to brag about her growth):

January, Dressed in Ice Crystals

December, Sleeping Under a Soft Blanket of Snow

November, Faded Hues of Fall

October... Filtered with Blue for a Halloween Post
"Don't touch the flowers with a blue glow
They'll cause a nasty itch,
they're poisonous you know."

September Beauty

July's Delicate White

Fresh New Blooms of June

Isn't she a delight?

Read more about this favorite of mine.
by clicking here:
Hydrangea paniculata 

You just may decide 
that you need to include this hardy hydrangea in your gardens.

BTW, I planted three more of them last Fall.

She thrives in Zones 3-9 and doesn't mind harsh Winters at all!

Be sure to visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for more GBBD posts!

♥  ♥  ♥

Just noticed the temperature gauge at the top right of my blog.
It is 52°F now as I publish this post.

This morning as I walked to glean inspiration (and blooms),
it was 28°F.

The weatherman said we will reach 60°F today... Yipee!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Red Rose for Valentines

Rosa 'Don Juan' is the absolute favorite red rose of my gardens.

"Love is like a rose. When pressed between two lifetimes, it will last forever."

Climbing a trellis in the hottest spot of my landscape, this rose seems to thrive in the heat and blooms profusely throughout the season. It's fragrance is divine.

Jackson and Perkins describes this rose as "Dramatic, crimson flowers with velvety, ruffled petals and an intoxicating damask scent are a standout in the garden, like a flamenco dancer on stage. The blossoms are set on long stems, just perfect for cutting! One of the only fragrant red climbers in the world, a seductive presence in any garden."

A red rose is a symbol of love and romance.
May your Valentines Day be filled with love!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blooming Friday Winter

Some time ago I discovered a wonderful Swedish blog Roses and Stuff  by Katarina. I must admit I'm a bit partial to blogs (and bloggers) in Sweden. My youngest son has lived in Sweden for the past year where he is serving a mission for our church. He will be there for another year before he returns home. As you might imagine, I miss this young man more than words can say but I am so happy for the opportunity he has been given to serve in such a beautiful country. Sweden is the land of many of our ancestors and I have been blessed to become familiar with this country and many of its beautiful people by visiting some of the blogs originating there.  Katarina's blog is one of those. 

Each Friday Katarina hosts Blommig Fredag 
or Blooming Friday. 

This week the theme is WINTER

Winter in This Grandmother's Garden

Here's my contribution for Blommig Fredag.

A collection of Winter scenes
as viewed through my camera lens 
describing all that's wonderful about Winter!

Now if it just wasn't so cold!

Thank you Katarina for hosting such a delightful meme.

Winter's magic wand adorns everything it touches 
with a sense of wonder and beauty.

Snowflakes Dancin' in the River

Branches Bowing to the Snow

Promise of Spring... waiting 

Forest Adorned in Winter Whites

Winter here is always a playground of fun!

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

Screamin' Fast!

One of Us Has to Move

Look Out Below!

Thanks Daddy

Snow Much Fun!

In our gardens, Winter often comes early... 
Early Snow... Leaves on Trees

Coral Bells Ringing

Early Snow Alyssum

And often returns with surprise visits...

Surprise Snow of May 2009

Dahlia Caught by the Surprise

Clematis Bud Not Sure if it's times to Open

But there is no doubt that Winter always brings beauty to everything it touches.

Winter's Beauty

Winter... it's a season we celebrate!